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Hola Amigos,

This weeks letter comes from the Pacific side of Panama.

John (my chef son), Maureen, (his significant other), Malcolm and I flew over the range that divides North and South Panama to visit the town of Bouquete. Unlike Bocas, which has many restaurants, Bouquete has few and none that approach being gourmet.

We flew over the mountains with Captain Marvin Mathews.

John and Maureen are here to explore the possibility of opening their own restaurant to cater to the growing number of retirees building homes in and around this mountain town. Both Panamanians and foreigners are buying land and building homes in these highlands, where the weather is spring-like all year. Many of these newcomers talk of the lack of variety in the existing menus to be found around town and John, with his years of experience of running kitchens, might well have a good business opportunity.

Between the bougainvilleas in the garden of Hotel Panamonte. Pat prefers the purple color to the red.

Maureen is a green-thumbed gardener who has years of experience growing and selling plants with herbs her specialty. The soil on the slopes of the extinct Vulcan (volcano) Baru is rich and the mists from the mountains ensure a year round growing season.

Bouquete is noted for its annual flower show. Brilliant colors everywhere.

I am sending you some photos to show how marked is the difference in the climate of this side. Bocas is tropical with palm trees and jungle vegetation. Its temperatures seldom stray from being between 85 and 95 degrees. The humidity is high. Life in Bocas is boat oriented because it is island life and has few places to go by car. The background noise is Caribbean salsa until the early hours of the morning and then the roar of the surf.

Bouquete is at three thousand feet and in the evenings you may often need a fire and almost certainly a sweater. The vegetation is widely varied and the background noise is the roar of the waters of the rivers tumbling down their precipitous courses.

John and Pat framed in the window of the unfinished house.

One of the properties we visited was a large castle-like home that was never completed. It was unchanged from when Malcolm and I first saw it four years ago. It is situated in the forest by a roaring river along the banks of which are pines and eucalyptus.

The river passing the house (top right corner).

There are various stories as to why the home was never finished. The romantic one is that the wife died and the man, broken hearted, could not bear to visit the site again.

It is refreshing to be away from Bocas for a few days. Before leaving, I achieved much in my studio and I feel that I have well earned this break. I am showing you two paintings. A week ago I showed the barn raising scene but told you there was more detail to be added. We talked about Amish women preparing a meal for the men and you will see them now setting out the meal on a table in the shade of the trees. One man, probably a dodi (grandfather) is taking a rest with his back to the tree trunk. I have added several other actions in part to balance the painting and in part to complete the narrative.

Pat's newest barn raising scene with more details added.

The second scene is a remembered landscape of the Shenandoah Valley, the home of my barn studio and the Museum. The mood of this painting is the opposite of the bustle of activity in the barn raising. I approach the scene from the elevation of a bird coming to land. Once there, I am the tree standing in the company of other trees who are my friends. In silence we share the joy of the beauty of the Valley and the distant Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Shenandoah Valley as remembered by Pat from Panama.

I found it satisfying to be switching back and forth between these two paintings, between the work subject of the one and the peaceful meditation of the other.

We will fly back to Bocas on Wednesday afternoon. Back to my studio so that I will have something new to show next week.



The Moss Portfolio
HC 69 Box 17118 Poplar Grove Lane
Mathews, VA 23109
(800) 430-1320
©P. Buckley Moss 2004

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